Writer Mike Costa opens “Indestructible Hulk Special” #1 with S.H.I.E.L.D. recalling Hulk and launching a plan to restore Banner to the equation. Jacob Wyatt checks in for the art chores and brings colorist Jordie Bellaire. The duo splendidly depicts an arid landscape and brutish Hulk as the behemoth walks right into S.H.I.E.L.D.’s trap.
With a story that continues out of “All-New X-Men Special” #1, I’m not sure why these were “Specials” and not “Annuals,” but the end result is just fine: readers get some continuity-light (but still current, mind you) stories that bring together Hulk, Spider-Man and the early X-Men to fight foes like Abomination and Doctor Octopus. The final chapter of “Arms of the Octopus” spins into the upcoming “Superior Spider-Man Team-Up Special” #1 and Costa ensures readers of this book will want to continue reading the story there.
In “Indestructible Hulk Special” #1, Mike Costa makes a strong pitch to take on more writing chores involving the Hulk should there be an opening. It’s not as compelling as Mark Waid’s work, but it certainly does a good job of making the smashing less predictable and throws in some lighter scenes, just like Waid does. One such scene involves a full-page splash of Hulk being overwhelmed by puppies. Not a dream, not an imaginary story, but Hulk and puppies.
Images like that and a double-page spread not unlike the Bil Keane “Family Circus” adventures that span the entirety of the yard as young Billy makes his way from the mailbox to the front door, give this comic book a generous helping of Silver Age fun. Fueled by the time travel mystery and inclusions of characters like the original X-Men, Doctor Octopus and the Abomination, this story mixes the current Marvel NOW! Universe with the historical bedrock from the House of Ideas. Naturally, any story emanating throwback vibrations from the history of Marvel Comics should have Benday dots and Kirby crackle, which Wyatt and Bellaire provide with extreme confidence and brilliant execution.
My biggest gripe with the art is the face-off between Abomination and Hulk occurs at midfield on the gridiron of Empire State University’s stadium. Their impact is shown approaching the fifty-yard line, with Hulk charging from one end zone and Abomination from the other. Hulk is depicted crossing the forty, but Abomination is crossing the sixty. That’s right the sixty-yard line. Fumbled details like this are more easily accepted when the story surrounding them excels and hits home, but as a big-time (and Big Ten) football fan, I couldn’t let this slide.
That bobble doesn’t keep “Indestructible Hulk Special” #1 from being yet another fun comic book from Marvel. This story is the type of thing Annuals would have presented in the 1980s and the combination of X-Men, Spider-Man and Hulk is something that truly celebrates so much of the Marvel Universe. With an explosive conclusion in this issue, Mike Costa and crew leave readers hanging for the finale to “Arms of the Octopus.” Personally, I’m just looking forward to another enjoyable story.